AFTER spending hundreds of thousands of pounds over three decades, a council is finally pulling out of supporting a passenger ferry.
Hampshire County Council has poured money into keeping the Hayling Ferry afloat – and spent more than £300,000 in the past eight years alone.
I don’t think the ferry is dead in the water. With a good business plan the ferry could really work.Andy Lenaghan
It continued to subsidise the privately-owned ferry when Havant and Portsmouth councils pulled out and until the firm went into administration. There have been no services since March.
Having invited firms to bid for the subsidy to run the ferry service, Hampshire’s transport boss Councillor Sean Woodward has looked at the figures and decided it is not sustainable.
Any operator would have to pay in the region of £240,000 to repair the landing pontoons.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘We have three elements to consider – the unknown cost of future subsidy requirements, the future maintenance costs of the pontoons, and the number of people who use the service.
‘We have, therefore, come to the conclusion that the significant costs involved do not represent good value for money to Hampshire’s taxpayers and that tenders should not be issued to restart the service.’
The council has no responsibility for running the ferry but it stepped in to ensure about 100 children from Hayling could make their way to schools in Portsmouth.
They say their decision not to grant a subsidy should not stop anyone from stepping forward to run the service.
Councillor Andy Lenaghan, who represents Hayling on Havant Borough Council, said he is surprised the council has withdrawn the subsidy from future operators but can understand why.
He said: ‘It is disappointing but with only 100 users per day it would have been quite a heavy subsidy. It works out around 50 to 60 pence per person per trip.
‘A subsidy was an important part of the plan for those interested in taking it on.
‘But I don’t think it’s dead in the water. With a good business plan the ferry could really work.’